DIGIT Movers and Shakers: September 2017 (Pt. 2)
What better way to round off September than with this month’s SECOND instalment of Movers and Shakers? The feature has become DIGIT’s most popular read, aiming to bring you all the major tech movements from up and down Scotland now every fortnight.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: NEW APPOINTMENTS
Business advisers and accountants Scott-Moncrieff have appointed Martin Langosch as Data Analytics Director to support the company’s audit and business technology (BTC) departments. Langosch, joining from IT solutions firm Sopra Steria, will be instrumental in implementing Scott-Moncrieff’s plans to add data analytics to its list of client offerings.
Langosch has 16 years’ experience in the field of data analysis, and in his time has created and run training courses that teach clients how to manage their data properly themselves. Based in Edinburgh but poised to work in Scott-Moncrieff offices in Glasgow and Inverness, his appointment comes as an increasing number of firms square themselves up against the challenges of cyber-crime and General Data Protection Regulation, which becomes enforceable next May.
Fraser Nicol, BTC Partner at Scott-Moncrieff, said: “Martin’s appointment will further strengthen our business technology team, and allow us to add data analytics to the extensive range of services we currently provide to our clients.
“The value of data analytics is huge, as it enables us to help our clients get value from the rapidly growing amounts of data that they hold, so we are delighted to be able to add this service to our portfolio.”
MaaS Scotland, an organisation which is promising to revolutionise the way we move through a bespoke transportation application, launched last week with a huge event in the heart of Edinburgh. Now the firm is looking to strengthen its position even more by appointing Kate Armitage, a leading voice in transportation, to its management board.
Armitage is joining the team from her previous position as Projects and Strategies Director at Route Monkey, a firm which specialises in mobility and data analysis. Armitage commented of her move: “I am delighted to be joining the board of MaaS Scotland. This organisation brings together all the elements we need to create a thriving network to enable smart, efficient and sustainable mobility.”
Dr George Hazel, Programme Manager for MaaS Scotland, said: “Route Monkey has been working on some leading-edge MaaS projects for some years, both within Scotland and across Europe. Kate Armitage has led on many of these projects, so she has valuable experience to bring to our board, as we seek to establish Scotland as a world-class centre for sustainable mobility.”
Digital Technologies Skills Group
The digital technologies skills group has appointed former Cisco Scotland director Donald McLaughlin as its new chair.
McLaughlin brings with him almost 30 years of experience in the global technology sector. He has in the past been a member of several industry boards relating to skills and technology and has served as a board member of the Digital Technologies Skills Group for over a year.
The group is responsible for advising on the Digital Technologies Skills Investment Plan which was created to enable Scotland to reach its full potential in the rapidly evolving digital technologies sector.
McLaughlin told DIGIT: “We are in the midst of what is being called the fourth industrial revolution. We need to disrupt or be disrupted. We have to make sure every level of society is included and equipped with the relevant digital skills to thrive in a world which is changing at an unprecedented rate. From school children learning to code, to older people having access to the internet, digital inclusion is a vital part Scotland’s economy.”
Two award-winning booking agencies, Fuze Ceremonies and Appointedd, have ‘tied the knot’ to provide a bespoke celebrant app for weddings, events and funerals. The firms are a match made in Heaven, looking to fuse Fuze’s expertise in the physical-side of events – matching customers with celebrants and providing celebrant training courses – with Appointedd’s unique booking software.
Anne Widdop, Founder of Fuze Ceremonies, said: “Now people can book their celebrant online, it gives them real peace of mind to be able to secure some-one for a key celebration or commemoration. We are the only celebrants in the UK who can be booked online and this has only been possible with the help of the fantastic team at Appointedd”.
Leah Hutcheon, Founder of Appointedd, mirrored: “Appointedd’s flexible booking and scheduling software is perfect for Fuze, we have enabled them to launch an individual booking platform for every one of their team. Customers of Fuze can now easily book their celebrant night or day, from anywhere in the world”.
ECS Digital, the ‘DevOps’ division of the Scotland-based ECS Group, has acquired software quality-assurance testers QAWorks. The move, ECS Digital hopes, will reduce the time and cost of delivering its software and software-related services to its clients. ECS Digital – which will be the combined name of the company – expects a first-year turnover of £10 million from the merge, expected to grow 100% year on year.
DevOps is an experimental field in software development which, in general, aims to streamline digital services such as internet banking. By employing client-focussed methodologies such as ‘behaviour-driven development’ (built on collaboration between teams) and ‘acceptance test–driven development’ (which relies on communication between customer and company) ECS Digital is hoping to realise the full talent of its newly-acquired specialists.
Andy Cureton, Founder and Managing Director, ECS Digital, said: “This is, as far as we are aware, the first time that a specialist DevOps company has integrated to this extent with a specialist testing company. We believe the deal will make ECS Digital unique as we will be the only consultancy to offer specialist testing practices as a foundation element of our DevOps offerings as well as in their own right.
“With over 14 years’ experience in DevOps and digital transformation (ECS Digital) we could not have found a more experienced software testing team (17 years) than QAWorks. Combining the rare skillset of the SDET (an acronym for software developers and testers) with the equally rare DevOps skillset, will enable us to meet our customers’ growing demands and further our position as a leader in DevOps and digital transformation.”
Dentsu Aegis Network has moved its Scottish operations to larger premises in Edinburgh to support its strategic ambitions and build on its sustained success in the city.
The agency, which employs 65 in Scotland, has relocated to Festival Square in the heart of Edinburgh’s Exchange District from York Place.
The move follows continued growth for the agency in the city since its launch in 2013 and the recent expansion of its senior management team. At the start of 2017, Chris Marsh, former Head of Sponsorship at the Royal Bank of Scotland, joined as Managing Director of Carat Edinburgh. In addition, Anneli Ritari-Stewart arrived as Managing Director of iProspect Edinburgh.
David Crawley, Managing Partner of Dentsu Aegis Network Edinburgh, said: “With the increasing pace of change within the industry driven primarily by the digital economy, brands are facing huge challenges in identifying the most effective way to engage with their consumers. The investment we are making in the new, state-of-the-art office, will enable us to expand the range of market leading propositions and services that we can offer to our clients to meet these challenges, and demonstrates our commitment to investing in the local skills economy to support this growth.”
Ctrip and Skyscanner
Ctrip, the owner of Scotland’s travel comparison unicorn Skyscanner, has announced that it will open a customer service call centre in Edinburgh. The China-based Ctrip is a giant in travel services, and bought Skyscanner last December for $1.4 billion in a bid to expand its scope even further. While operationally independent from Skyscanner, the Edinburgh-based call centre could create up to 200 new jobs and cater to customers across 26 languages.
The customer service centre is slated to open in the first two months of 2018, with recruitment to open towards the end of 2017. A handful of the new employees will also visit Ctrip’s headquarters in Shanghai to gain insight from peers there – Ctrip’s is recognised in China to be highly customer-orientated.
Coley Dale, Partner of International Partnerships of Ctrip, said: “Ctrip’s leadership team has visited Edinburgh several times since the acquisition of Skyscanner at the end of last year. It is clear to us that there is considerable talent in Scotland and the city makes an ideal base for Ctrip to open a dedicated call centre.”
Paul Lewis, Managing Director of Scottish Development International, said: “We are delighted Ctrip has chosen Edinburgh for its first call centre outside China. The company joins many international investors which recognise the strength of our skills base, competitive business environment and effective support network. We look forward to working with Ctrip to help deliver this significant investment and new jobs for Scotland.”
Voysis, an independent voice-recognition firm from the Ireland, has announced that it will open a centre for excellence in Edinburgh as their first UK base. The team will work to develop the company’s alternative and more bespoke solutions to the more popular choices in voice-tech, such as Apple and Amazon. At least 10 experts will form the team led by Ian Hodson, who joined Voysis earlier this year after heading up Google’s voice-recognition projects for half a decade.
Voysis aims to deliver voice-recognition applications for businesses in short timeframes, and is scaling-up its efforts after acquiring $8 million worth of financing from U.S. venture capitalist firm Polaris earlier this year. Currently, Voysis lists its objectives as threefold: to streamline mobile e-commerce with voice-tech, hone social- and multimedia content by user based on their voice-activated choices, and speed up transactions between retailer and consumer.
Commenting on the unique opportunities that Edinburgh presents, Mr. Hodson said: “Many of the state-of-the-art technologies and approaches that are used by leading companies in the speech industry have ties to Edinburgh’s universities. It is a major hub for talent and we have already kicked off a project with Heriot-Watt and have close ties to the University of Edinburgh. Europe is a real hotbed of talent and it is more cost effective and perhaps even more productive than Silicon Valley.”
Studio Dundee, a proposed space along Dundee’s renovated Waterfront that could offer more room to the city’s creative industries, has been given the green light by Dundee City Council. With facilities to include 24/7 meeting rooms, break-out areas and high capacity broadband, it is hoped that the firms will use the environment to communicate and collaborate on new and innovative IPs. A cafeteria named The Hub will also allow networking in a large and relaxed format.
Studio Dundee will accommodate 75 entrepreneurs and provide 3,719 sq. meters of ‘urban studios’, 1,400 sq. meters of retail space and 122 rentable flats. From its inception the Studio is expected to nurture jobs, including 100 construction roles just to built it, as well as enough room for 60 firms in the Studio’s main spaces and a further 10 retail and food businesses for The Hub. Construction is slated to commence in early 2018, nearby the Seabraes creative hub built for digital and media industries.
Allan Watt, Dundee Waterfront Project Director, said: “This is a further major development that will make a major contribution to the Central Waterfront area. We are delighted with progress and the level of interest we are receiving from developers and investors.
“Dundee Waterfront has nearly 1.5 million sq. feet of ‘shovel-ready’ land ready for mixed-use development across 8 sites with more than £750 million of investment already committed. We take a partnership approach to development and would urge businesses and entrepreneurs to approach us directly with their proposals.”
Cyber-security consultancy Context Information Security (CIS) has opened a new base in Haymarket, Edinburgh. The new base will bring CIS (previously focussed down south in London, Basingstoke, Cheltenham and Cambridge) and its services up to Scotland. These services include penetration testing and red teaming, where security technicians attempt to break into a company’s security defences to identify entry-points for criminals.
CIS has an international presence, with offices also located in Germany, the USA and Australia. The company employs nearly 200 cyber-security experts, and is certified by the NCSC and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. The company is also accredited by CREST, a not-for-profit organisation that offers threat intelligence and incident response services.
Andrew Scott, Scotland Assurance Lead at CIS, said: “Edinburgh is a focal point for both traditional and disruptive financial services organisations that need to protect sensitive and valuable customer data and are a prime target for cyber criminals. With this new base in Edinburgh and a team of highly-experienced consultants in the finance sector, we are able to better serve these companies and react immediately to cyber-attacks to protect their assets.”
Tony Romanis, Scotland Account Director at Context, said: “Scottish companies have been leading the way in understanding risk and developing effective cyber security strategies. Scottish universities such as Abertay and Napier have excellent degree courses for cyber-security practitioners and Edinburgh has a thriving ‘white hat’ ethical hacking community. We look forward to harnessing this local talent and helping to strengthen Scotland’s global position in cyber-security.”
Entrepreneur, CEO and ‘futurist’ speaker Theo Priestley has launched Dopamine Games, and announced its new headline project ‘Gateway‘. Theo wants to build the next great gaming sensation, envisioning Gateway as an MMO staged in deep space. Theo plans to use Dopamine Games as the launch pad for his new IP, working with sci-fi authors and astrophysicists alike.
Theo is well-poised as a seasoned techie with a clear vision, but is also at such an early stage of development that he has a smorgasbord of choice before him. For example, he has been investigating using Amazon Lumberyard, a branch of AWS that offers a variety of choices to hopeful software designers.
Theo spoke to DIGIT on his ambitions: “Most of the games that exist today are actually pretty sterile, the planets are huge but empty, outposts all look the same for example. The sandbox arena is too large; what’s the point of building a sandbox if you never intend to fill it with anything engaging?
“With Gateway we’re not only going to create an open world galaxy but we’re going to fill it with content, stories and life that will evolve with the players.
“I can’t say too much right now. But one of the biggest factors in Gateway is giving everything in the game a sense of purpose and consequence. That feeds narratives, stories, missions, and non-player-characters’ (NPC) behaviour. I’ve never seen the level of Skyrim interaction in a space sim MMO before for example. We want to take that a few stages further with deep learning and behavioural analytics that evolves missions and interactions beyond scripting. Players should never feel they have to go to the same NPCs to experience the same missions over and over again. Life doesn’t work like that, so neither should the NPCs.
“It’s been great, people have been coming up and wanting to get involved, the hardest part is knowing when to say ‘No’ and knowing when to say ‘Yes’.”